The Psalm writer wrote: Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received. This is the word of God. It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.
Proverbs 23:22-35 Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy truth, and do not sell it, Get wisdom and instruction and understanding. The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, And he who sires a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and your mother be glad, And let her rejoice who gave birth to you. Give me your heart, my son, And let your eyes delight in my ways. For a harlot is a deep pit And an adulterous woman is a narrow well. Surely she lurks as a robber, And increases the faithless among men. Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long over wine, Those who go to taste mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it goes down smoothly; At the last it bites like a serpent And stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things And your mind will utter perverse things. And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea, Or like one who lies down on the top of a mast. “They struck me, but I did not become ill; They beat me, but I did not know it. When shall I awake? I will seek another drink.”
None of us have perfect parents. Some of us have parents who were unbelievers. Parents who were lukewarm christians. Parents who were more interested in sports and politics than in us. Some have parents who loved their careers and hobbies more than their families. Some have parents who found it difficult to show affection. Parents who were heavy handed with disciple, and parents who never disciplined. Maybe your parents wanted you to be seen and not heard. Maybe they let you do whatever you wanted. Helicopter parents. Absent parents. Abusive parents. Incompetent parents. Wherever your father and mother may fall on the spectrum of parenting, two things are certain: your parents are sinful men and women in need of God’s grace every millisecond of their lives, and your perception of them is skewed by your own sinful heart. There is a temptation for us to look at our parents failures and blame them for our own sin and circumstances. There is a temptation to say “My parents ruined my life, I am a messed up person now, so I vow to never make those mistakes. I will listen to nothing they say. Therefore I reject any notion of ever getting married, or having children, or honoring God in the way He created me.” Perhaps, because of your sinful parents, the idea of God as Heavenly Father is repulsive to you, and that’s why you hate His Word, and prefer to walk on the broad path attempting to drown out His truths. There is a temptation for all of us to reject our fathers teaching and to despise our mothers.
The proverb today tells us: Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old. This is a hard saying, is it not? How do you reconcile God’s command to honor your father and mother by listening and not despising, with the fact that you know your parents are wicked and ignorant? How can you listen to a father who was absent and a mother was was overbearing? Why should you submit yourself to further humiliation by listening to anything your backward, messed up, holier than thou, so called father and mother have to say? Because you are wicked and sinful as well. Because you are in need of God’s grace and mercy as much as your parents, if not more. Because judgement will be without mercy to those who show no mercy. Because love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Brothers and sisters, our sinful fathers and mothers don’t deserve anything but wrath from the hand of God, and neither do we. It is for this reason that we must show grace to our parents. We cannot call out to God to be merciful towards me a sinner, when we are not willing to show mercy towards others as well. Maybe your parents are lost. Maybe they are wicked and sinful. The reality is that, like you, they deserve nothing but wrath from God. Listen to them, filter their words and actions through scripture and not your own sinful heart, and love them enough to share the good news of Jesus Christ with them. Using scripture as your guide, rather than your own imaginations, live your life in a way that reflects God’s plan and design, and let your parents see this. Maybe you don’t have a father or a mother. Maybe they have passed away, or have withdrawn and cut off the relationship. Perhaps you believe there is some barrier preventing you from honoring your father and mother: then you honor your Heavenly Father by loving His Son and obeying His commands. Confess and repent of your sins against a Holy God, and live in light of the grace you have received. Let us kneel and cry out to God for mercy.
Heavenly Father, You alone are worthy of honor and praise. You are the Father from whom all fatherhood gets its name. You command us in Your Word to honor our father and mother, yet because of the sin of our parents, and our own sinful hearts, we find this notion to be difficult and repulsive. Father, we believe that since our parents failed, we have no obligation to honor them. We believe that because we are so wise, we can look at the past failures of our parents and judge them, and we do so by our own standards which are void of grace and love and truth. We believe that because of our parents sin and abuse of authority, we are now free to reject all authority, including Yours. Please forgive us for our arrogance. Please forgive us for our pride. Father, please forgive us for not loving our parents as ourselves. Forgive us for our lack of grace towards sinners. Father, please open our eyes that we might not be blind to our own sinful and wicked ways. Father, where our parents are sinful and in error, please show them grace that they might repent. It’s in Jesus name we pray, Amen.
Listen now to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to all that believe:
1 Corinthians 15:20-26 20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death.
To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Lift up your hearts
(From the 9/16/18 liturgy of Sovereign King Church. Written by Aaron Sabie.)